Are You Wealthy?

There is a simple equation to determine if you are wealthy. From The Millionaire Next Door, it follows:

(Your annual income * Years of age) / 10 = What your total assets should be worth

Now add up all your total assets. Is it above or below the number calculated in the equation?

While it’s a rough calculation, this equation gives a good estimate of where you stand relative to everyone else. It also makes it possible to segment out the savers and the spenders. Savers have more assets than the number calculated and spenders have less. Which one are you?

I like this equation because so often we correlate annual income with wealth. But, due to credit cards and our consumer culture, it is possible to have a big salary and still feel impoverished. I knew a person with three houses and a boat who claimed life was a  struggle and complained about their taxes. Never forget that looking wealthy (spenders) and feeling wealthy (savers) are two different things.

Don’t feel bad if you are a spender – almost every force in America is aligned to get you to part with your money as fast as it comes in. It is almost too easy to spend money these days. Back when we paid for things with paper money, you could literally feel the pain of parting with your cash. Now we just swipe a piece of plastic and the pain doesn’t happen.

I’m also not an advocate for a life of grim austerity either. Take life’s pleasures when you can, they are rewarding. As I’ve written before, being grateful for what you have been given is the key to being prosperous.

Ten Years After

day 08 - 06 dave summit.0

Today marks the 10th anniversary of my brother and I climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. That’s a photo of me  at the summit, the highest point of Africa.

It was a big moment in my personal history, never did I imagine doing something so bold. And I’d love to tell you that I’ve never felt more triumphant and my life immediately changed for the better and all that inspirational bullshit that everyone talks about when they climb mountains or run a marathon.

But no, the truth is I was wiped out and the moments leading up to this photo were not pretty. Despite being in good shape from competitive rowing, at some points I was just about crawling. The only way I finished at all was the thought, “I traveled 8,000 miles to get here and I’ll be damned if I can’t finish the last 800 feet.”

day 08 - 02 dave glaciers

The climb up Kilimanjaro starts in a 90 degree jungle and ends on a summit with glaciers

People talk about altitude sickness at 5,000 or 10,000 feet but, let me assure you, it is much more intense at 19,341. The summit of Kili has oxygen levels half those at the base.

This lack of oxygen shows up in your body not as gasping for air but as an overwhelming sense of fatigue. While climbing at the summit your entire body is saying, “Stop moving. You need to stop. Stop. It’s a good idea that you stop. You need some rest. Wouldn’t it be nice to give up? Do that. Give up.”

So when I finally reached the sign, I was happy it was over. I pulled off my ski mask and posed with the biggest, fakest smile I could muster. As soon as it was taken, I said, “Alright, I’m outta here” and started the decent.

day6 back to barafu.0

With our guide Armani. Summit camp was so littered with exhausted hikers it resembled a refugee camp

The descent is, if anything, more of a slog and makes a very long day even longer. When you climb Kilimanjaro, you get up at midnight to ascend from 15,000 feet to 19,341. Getting to the summit to see the dawn (notice the long shadows in the photo), you then descend from 19,341 all the way back down to 10,000 feet. In a 16 hour span, you traverse about 13,000 vertical feet.

I tell people of the two big mountains I’ve climbed, “Mount Rainier was terrifying, Mount Kilimanjaro was exhausting.”

day 08 - 09 andy pit.0

Continuing his tradition of upstaging me at everything, my brother opted to tour the summit while I descended. Here he is at the Ash Pit.

But I did it and I’m proud of that. Trips like these are a struggle from start to finish but the struggle, for me, makes it worth it. “I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro” is something I can tell people for the rest of my life.

day 10 - 10 andy airport

My brother enjoys a post-climb celebration beer in the Arusha airport

You can read the complete travelogue I wrote in 2006 about this trip here and view the photos on Flickr in the following installments:

Part one – landing, driving, camping in the rainforest
Part two – hiking, camping, hiking, camping
Part three – summit day(!), descending, monkeys

Thanks for reading. If you are interested in climbing Kili, I recommend Good Earth Tours.